The return to school ‒ and especially the start of high school ‒ can be an anxious time for many Autistic students. It certainly was for me. My attitude at the beginning of Year 7 was ‘please let me survive this’. Like anything, there was a balance of hurdles and wins. It took me a while to make friends and I was frequently confused with the expectations around homework.
I needed a lot of encouragement and understanding to navigate my high school years and my path was anything but straightforward. I am grateful for key teachers who made me feel safe, for the friendships I developed that were based on acceptance and shared interests and, most of all, for the unwavering support of my family.
Many of you know that it was my mum Lisa’s approach to parenting me that helped inspire me to create the I CAN Network. I am the oldest of four children in my family. Mum and I had quite a journey together during my high school years as she felt the full intensity of my anxiety. Last year, she and I sat down to reflect upon our experiences and we recorded our discussion as a webinar. With the help of our amazing I CAN team, we have also put together a downloadable tip sheet.
I hope that our insights and tips will give other parents and carers of Autistic students more confidence to navigate their own journeys ahead. Please share them with your networks.
I am especially proud that four of our mentors ‒ all Autistic young adults with much more recent experiences of high school have put together a related webinar and tip sheet that is aimed directly at younger Autistic peers. You can find their work here.
Thank you to the DHHS Victoria for sponsoring the creation of these resources.
On behalf of our entire I CAN team, best wishes for the new school year!
Chris – Founder & Chief Enabling Officer, I CAN Network